In the midst of townhouses and storefront lofts in Manhattan’s Upper West Side sits a small new Italian eatery called Osteria Accademia. In Italy an “osteria” is a small restaurant that serves wine and a simple food menu. Accademias are places of education and learning with collections on display. In the case of Osteria Accademia the collections on display are books that are lined up on floor-to-ceiling stacks along the walls of the restaurant. Another key to the ambiance of the restaurant is the low lighting, with candles at every table.
At Osteria Accademia wine is indeed a specialty. Some of the main wines at the restaurant are Valle Reale, Occhipinti, Versante Nord Rosso and Scopetone red wines as well as Tramin, Feudo Montoni and Bisci white wines. Upon deciding to order the braised short ribs with mashed potatoes as the main course, I asked about which wine would complement the meat well and was advised the red wine Valle Reale would be best. The Valle Reale was smooth with fruity notes of berries like blueberries with hints of licorice. Before the main course was brought out a basket of crostini bread which consisted of toasted and untoasted pieces was brought to the table. The toasted crostini’s were crisp and had umami flavor of cheddar herb toast with hints of garlic and oregano. Also sampled was the oven fresh garlic bread which had a good buttery, garlic taste with each bite.
For the appetizer I tried one of the ravioli options from the pasta menu, ordering the Cacio E Pepe Ravioli. the ravioli has Parmigiana butter, and is topped with Black Winter Truffles. While the taste of truffles can sometimes be overpowering, the Parmigiana was the prominent flavor that stood out also lending to a creamy filling within the dish and the ravioli itself had the right amount of doneness and lightness. Although the dish was an appetizer it was quite filling.
When the main course the braised short ribs with mashed potatoes arrived, the potatoes were served with the short ribs on top, both covered in a red wine reduction sauce. The sauce was a contrast of sweet and savory. The Valle Reale wine that was sipped alongside the short ribs which are braised for eight hours helped bring out the savoriness in the short ribs while having similar flavor nods to the wine in the braising reduction sauce that was served with the meal. The short ribs were fork tender and the mashed potatoes were hearty and smooth without potato skins blended in.
Lastly for dessert I ordered two cannoli pastries. The crust was crisp and flaky while the ricotta filling seemed to have a citrus flavor which is also thanks to candied fruit slices within the cannolis.
The staff were also of great service. I was introduced to Rinor who shared some interesting details about the restaurant and menu offerings. He also pointed out that currently the restaurant is only open for dinner but will begin to expand to lunch, and brunch and delivery as the restaurant grows. The restaurant opens at 5pm each day and closes at 10pm or 10:30pm and it is recommended that reservations are made in advance as the restaurant only has indoor seating for less than 35 people, but they do offer a small outdoor seating area as well.
Although the restaurant has a library study hall setting, and would seem to cater to a quiet dining experience the experience is an warm environment to engage in chat while also learning about the importance of osterias and diversity within Italian cuisine.
Osteria Accademia is located at 646 Amsterdam Avenue in New York City.
Photos By: David Gaillou and Kadeem Lundy